A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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Dodintone (xi cent.); Donton (xv cent.); Duddington (xvi cent.).
Dunton is a parish containing 1,196 acres, of which 79 acres are arable, 1,074 acres are permanent grass, and 15 acres consist of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is rich loam with a subsoil of clay, and the chief crops are wheat and barley. The land is fairly high, being considerably over 400 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The small village of Dunton lies in a secluded spot about the centre of the parish. It consists of the church, rectory, and the school, with a few cottages and scattered farmhouses. To the north-west of the church is the Manor Farm, an 18th-century brick house, and there is a small wood called Blackland Covert towards the north-east.
The manor of DUNTON, assessed at 10 hides in 1086 and formerly held by Earl Leofwine, was then among the possessions of Odo Bishop of Bayeux. (fn. 2) On the forfeiture of Odo, Dunton escheated to the Crown, (fn. 3) of which it was afterwards held as of the honour of Peveril London and for ward at the castle of Dover. (fn. 4) This service, described as grand serjeanty in 1322, (fn. 5) was said to be 26s., or 10s. for every twenty weeks' ward, (fn. 6) and is mentioned last in 1386. (fn. 7) In the 14th century there appears to have been an intermediary lordship, the tenants in fee having to render service to the manor of Ospringe, Kent, (fn. 8) but nothing is heard of this after 1364, (fn. 9) and until 1425 or later the lords of the manor held as of the king in chief. (fn. 10)
The tenant of Dunton in 1086 was Turstin de Giron, (fn. 11) who was probably the ancestor of Hamo de Gerunde and of Hugh his son mentioned in 1194 and 1197. (fn. 12) Hamo's son Philip de Gerunde held Dunton in 1198, (fn. 13) but was imprisoned for rebellion in 1216, when his possessions were granted first to Hugh de Nevill (fn. 14) and afterwards to William de Gatesden, to hold at the king's will. (fn. 15) However, by 1221 the Gerundes were restored to favour, Rosamund widow of Philip receiving the manor in dower (fn. 16) and purchasing the right to marry whom she would, (fn. 17) and Nicholas, probably a son of Philip, receiving other concessions. (fn. 18) Nicholas was still in possession in 1254, (fn. 19) but appears to have died c. 1268, leaving a son and heir Hugh, (fn. 20) who did homage for his lands in that year. (fn. 21) Hugh held Dunton until his death c. 1297, (fn. 22) when he was succeeded by his son, another Hugh, (fn. 23) who died about ten years later, leaving a son John aged nine. (fn. 24) He died about 1322, leaving three daughters and heirs, all under age. (fn. 25) Dunton fell to Maud, the eldest of these. She became the wife of Henry de Chalfont, 'the king's yeoman,' who had been made custodian of her lands during her minority. (fn. 26) In 1334 and again in 1338 the manor was settled on Henry and Maud for life, with remainder to the heirs of Henry. (fn. 27) Chalfont was Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1341 and again in 1343. (fn. 28) He died in 1371 leaving a son and heir Thomas, (fn. 29) who died three years later. The latter was succeeded by his son Henry, a minor, (fn. 30) who died without issue in 1386. His heirs were his great aunt Sybil Jargonvyll and his three cousins John de Bedford, Roger Turner and Agnes atte Stile. (fn. 31) In the same year Roger and John enfeoffed Walter Walsshe, William Palmer, and William Stukele of a 'moiety' of Dunton Manor, (fn. 32) in order to cover the conveyance of the half manor to Sybil Jargonvyll and Agnes atte Stile. (fn. 33) The manor was held to their use by William Palmer and William Stukele, (fn. 34) who granted it in 1394 to Thomas Agas and Robert or Roger Marshall and other feoffees, (fn. 35) to whom Agnes and Sybil released their right. (fn. 36) Thomas Agas and Robert Marshall in turn sold the manor to John Worship, who had it in 1396, together with other feoffees. (fn. 37) In 1425 the survivors of these trustees conveyed the manor to Edmund Hampden (fn. 38) of Hampden. His younger son Sir Edmund Hampden obtained Dunton, but was attainted in 1461, (fn. 39) the manor being granted in 1465 to Richard Croft, jun., and Thomas Croft to hold for life. (fn. 40) Though Dunton was especially exempted in the Act of Resumption in 1467–8, (fn. 41) the Hampdens regained possession of it. In 1511 William, son and heir of Sir Edmund Hampden, received livery of his lands, (fn. 42) and in 1513 he settled Dunton Manor on himself, his wife Audrey and his heirs. (fn. 43) In 1525 William died, leaving the manor to his wife Audrey with reversion to his son John, a minor. (fn. 44)
In 1553 John Hampden acquired from his cousin Sir John Hampden the manor of Great Hampden (q.v.), with which Dunton descended (fn. 45) until the first quarter of the 18th century, when Richard Hampden lost nearly all his property in the South Sea Bubble. (fn. 46) In 1731 Dunton was sold by the trustees to Sarah, Dowager Duchess of Marlborough. (fn. 47) The latter died in 1744, leaving the manor to her grandson John Spencer, who died in 1746, when he was succeeded by his son John, first Earl Spencer. (fn. 48) The manor of Dunton descended for many years with the title of Earl Spencer, but by 1862 it had passed to Lord Carrington. (fn. 49) His son, the Marquess of Lincolnshire, is now the lord of the manor.
In 1298 and again in 1322 a windmill in Dunton is mentioned. (fn. 50)
The church of ST. MARTIN consists of a chancel 27 ft. by 15 ft. 6 in., nave 38 ft. 3 in. by 18 ft. 4 in., west tower 7 ft. by 8 ft. and a south porch. It is built of flint and stone rubble with stone dressings, now mostly plastered. The east gable and the eastern part of the north wall of the nave are of brickwork, and the western part of the same wall and the tower are of rough ashlar limestone, the tower being very badly weathered. The roof of the chancel is tiled and the other roofs are of slate.
The church dates from the 12th century, and then probably consisted of the present nave and a chancel. In the 13th century the chancel was rebuilt, and in the 15th century the west tower was added, and windows were inserted, while early in the 16th century the chancel (fn. 51) was probably re-roofed. Owing to the collapse of the nave roof at the end of the 18th century the south wall of the nave had to be rebuilt; about the same time also the south porch was added, a number of windows were inserted, a gallery was added at the west end, new seating was provided in the nave, and the roofs of the chancel and nave were hidden by flat ceilings of plaster. The church was restored in the 19th century, when the flat ceiling of the chancel was removed and the floor of the nave raised to the level of that of the chancel.
The chancel has an 18th-century east window of three lights in a wooden frame. The lines of the inner jambs and rear-arch of a window with a twocentred head, probably of 15th-century date, are visible internally. The north wall has at the east end a small rectangular window with widely splayed inner jambs, to the west of which, lower down, is a double rectangular rebated locker, probably of the 15th century. Further west is a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head, possibly of 15th-century date, but apparently modern externally, while at the west end of the wall, low down, is a 13th-century lancet with widely splayed inner jambs. The south wall has three windows—the easternmost similar to the two-light window in the middle of the north wall, the centre one a tall 13th-century lancet with a restored head and widely-splayed inner jambs, and the westernmost a lancet similar to that in the north wall, on the eastern external jamb of which are scratched a number of finger dials. Internally the eastern jamb of this window has been altered for the insertion of an 18th-century flat-headed doorway. At the east end of the wall is a continuously-moulded roundheaded piscina, which is possibly of the 13th century. The chancel arch, originally of the 12th century, has on the nave side jambs with attached circular columns with carved capitals; probably in the early 16th century the whole arch was altered, being rebuilt in its present pointed form with two chamfered orders, while the jambs were built up square around the 12th-century work; a screen was added, the mortices still remaining in the soffit of the arch and in the south jamb. Probably during the 19th-century restoration part of the 12th-century work was uncovered and the arch left in its present rather curious form.
In the north wall of the nave are two 18th-century round-headed windows with wooden frames, the eastern of which is set in a 15th-century pointed opening. Further west is a blocked 12th-century doorway, of which only the eastern jamb, the semicircular head with cheveron moulding and the lintel remain. The latter is enriched with strapwork and crudely carved figures which may possibly represent the Temptation of our Lord. The south wall has two windows similar to the western one in the north wall, and, between them, an 18th-century flat-headed doorway, above which is a semicircular window similar to the upper part of the other windows. The south porch is entirely of 18th-century date and has a round-headed outer arch.
The west tower is of two stages with flat clasping buttresses around the western angles, a plain cemented parapet and a stair in the thickness of the wall at the north-east angle. The tower arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders, which die into the walls. The 15th-century west doorway has continuously-moulded jambs and four-centred head and an external label with the remains of one head-stop. The window above has 15th-century external jambs and a two-centred head, but an 18th-century window with a wooden frame has been inserted in the opening; above it is a small rectangular window. The top stage has in each face a small 15th-century opening with a two-centred drop arch. The decayed string-course beneath the parapet has the remains of a grotesque head at each angle.
The roof of the chancel is probably of early 16th-century date and is now ceiled at the level of the collars. The eastern truss has a steeply-cambered moulded tie-beam; the central truss, by the side of which is a modern tie-beam, has arched struts resting on hammer beams, the lower parts of which, and probably the curved struts beneath, were cut away for the former flat ceiling; the western truss is similar to the eastern, but has less camber. There is a small intermediate principal between each truss, and they are stiffened by curved wind-bracing.
In the east end of the nave are two brasses, both in Purbeck marble slabs, one of which has a Latin inscription to John Sotton, 1518, and Agnes his wife, the date of whose death is not filled in; above are small figures of a man and woman with remains of scrolls. The other brass has a small figure of a woman in pedimental head-dress with a child clinging to her skirt, and part of an inscription as follows:—
'…Collys the wyff of Richard
…whose soulys ihu have m'ci.'
In the chancel is a floor slab of Purbeck marble, indecipherable, but probably of 17th-century date; there are also slabs to Matthias Mayo, 1707; to James Moody, 1772; and to Henry St. John Bullen, 1836, all of whom were former rectors.
In the south-east angle of the tower is the square bowl of a font, possibly of 12th-century date, now on a modern base.
The gallery, which has a panelled front, the box pews of the nave, and the communion rails with turned balusters, are all probably of 18th-century date.
There are three bells; the first is inscribed 'R. C. (for Richard Chandler) made me 1720'; the second, by James Keene, is inscribed 'God save our King 1639'; and the third, possibly by Richard Keene, is blank.
The plate consists of a silver chalice, paten, flagon and almsdish presented by Rev. H. L. Milner, D.C.L., in 1811.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries from 1577 to 1652; (ii) mixed entries from 1577 to 1726 (the earlier part being a copy of the first register); (iii) mixed entries from 1726 to 1796 with no entries of marriages after 1753; (iv) marriages from 1754 to 1807; (v) baptisms and burials from 1796 to 1812.
In 1662 Samuel Rolle or Rolls was ejected from the living under the Act of Uniformity. (fn. 54) He was succeeded by Thomas Willis, His Majesty's Chaplain, the author of several eccleasiastical works. (fn. 55) In 1669 the Bishop of Hereford successfully petitioned the king to allow Willis to reside at Dunton, and to provide a curate to officiate at his other living of Kingstonupon-Thames. (fn. 56)
The charity of Mrs. Bullen consists of a sum of £111 5s. 4d. consols held by the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £2 15s. 8d., are applicable in the distribution of blankets and clothing.